“We need teenagers with attitude!”
Those were the immortal words of Zordon himself. Every kid of the 1990s knew that magical space wizard. He was the one who gave ordinary high school students the ability to transform into the karate-fighting, color-coded Power Rangers. Children everywhere in America embraced the phenomenon that was Power Rangers with absolute enthusiasm.
Audiences might experience that phenomenon again with the recent announcement from Lionsgate and Saban Brands that a reboot of the wildly popular 1990s children’s television series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, could hit cinemas in the not-to-distant future. As of right now, no director or screenwriter has been announced to helm the picture.
This will mark the second time the Rangers have graced the big screen. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie premiered in theaters in 1995. It went on to gross $66 million at the box office worldwide. With a relatively small budget of $15 million, it was viewed as a financial success. It seems that Lionsgate wants to test if the Rangers still have the appeal that they did nearly 20 years ago.
I was a child of the ‘90s. We had the best cartoons and kid shows of any decade. That’s right ‘80s kids, I’m saying your Transformers and He-Man cartoons are nowhere near the quality of our cartoons and TV shows. I’ll see your G.I. Joe and 21 Jump Street, and raise you our Batman: The Animated Series and Boy Meets World any day of the week. I’m getting off track though. Let’s get back to the Power Ranger nostalgia.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was required viewing for any kid in elementary school back in my day. There was many an argument over who was the best Ranger. Was it Jason the Red Ranger, or Tommy the Green Ranger with his awesome ponytail? Those were some good times. You can’t help but see the impact that Power Rangers has had on pop culture since its debut in 1993. Just look at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D! It’s practically Power Rangers with a bunch of 20-somethings. Oh, who am I kidding? Power Rangers has better acting, special effects and a more ethnically diverse cast than does Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Enough about poorly written kids shows produced by Joss Whedon. Let’s talk about this Power Rangers reboot.
How do I feel about this recent announcement? As much of fan as I was of the program throughout the ‘90s, I’m not really experiencing any feelings of righteous anger or love at the moment. Power Rangers, which recently premiered its 21st season in February on Nickelodeon, is a kid’s show. It’s not meant to appeal to adults. Do I have any feelings of nostalgia? I think I might feel a slight twinge in my cold-cynical heart. Hearing the iconic opening theme can probably get a smile to cross my face. That doesn’t mean that it’s Lionsgate’s job to appeal to me or those who also watched the series back in the ‘90s. It’s meant to appeal to the little kids of today. I don’t see any reason to get upset about that.
However, we have seen Hollywood’s attempts at revitalizing nostalgia-inducing franchises with mixed results before. Transformers, G.I. Joe and the soon-to-be released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot are recent examples. While the former two have done well financially, critical reception is another thing altogether.
Look, I’m not going to defend a show I watched when I was in grammar school. Did Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have bad dialogue, goofy villains and cheesy special effects? Absolutely. Was the show designed to sell toys and Halloween costumes? No question. What I can say is that it introduced me to the larger world of geek culture. I doubt I would have the same love for Star Wars, Godzilla and Batman that I do today without the Power Rangers. It was a stepping stone that opened up my mind to countless other properties. Power Rangers is the little 8-year-old kid of geek culture. Is that kid seriously any different than the 40-year-old geek that dresses up as Captain Kirk? I don’t think so.
There’s plenty to question about this film reboot. Who will it be geared to? What immortal foe will the Rangers face off against? Where will the product placement be shoehorned in!? So many unanswered questions. It’s in Lionsgate’s hands right now. If they produce a product that gives kids 2-hours of rainbow colored karate experts fighting against giant monsters, who am I to complain? Let the kids of today experience that good cheesy fun of the distant 1990s.
By the way, the Green Ranger is the best. Tommy Oliver for life!